Bountiful hay harvest begins in Montezuma County

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Bountiful hay harvest begins in Montezuma County

‘Some people haven’t had to irrigate at all’
Decker Hay Farm is in the midst of its first of three cuts. Cody Decker said yields are generous this year thanks to spring rains that came at the perfect time.
Cody Decker has been out in the fields for about a week working on the first cut of alfalfa and grass at Decker Hay Farm south of Cortez.
Bumper crop of noxious weeds expected

Ideal conditions for a bumper hay crop also benefit the invasive weeds that choke out native plants, damage natural ecological systems and may be poisonous to humans and livestock.
“All the weeds are going nuts. It’s going to be a huge weed year, and you need to control them before they go to seed,” said Bonnie Loving, head of the Montezuma County noxious weed department.
Hoary Cress, a white-flowering perennial forb in the mustard family, is especially problematic this year, Loving said.
“I just harvested a 34-inch (hoary cress) plant. That’s the tallest I’ve ever seen them,” she said.
The trouble with hoary cress, Loving said, is that it dominates an area, creating a monoculture that pushes all other species out. Once it’s established, she said it can expand by 15 feet in one growing season.
“We knew it was going to be a problem, but we didn’t think it would be this bad,” Loving said.
So far this year, Loving said 41 enforcement letters have gone out to private landowners who have previously been identified with having a problem with various noxious weeds and have been asked to develop a noxious weed management plan but have failed to do so.
Loving encourages livestock owners to purchase local hay because imported hay can introduce non-native, noxious weeds.
Loving said the Montezuma County Weed Program will conduct property visits for free to inform landowners of issues with noxious plants, whether they are native or non-native.
The department also has a backpack sprayer program that any county landowner can use twice for free. Training is provided on the use of the backpack and proper and safe application of herbicides.
In addition, the Montezuma County Weed Program has $40,000 dedicated to a cost-share program that will be used to cover a percentage of a landowner’s cost for herbicide to eradicate noxious weeds.
Montezuma County Weed Program is at 103 N. Chestnut St. in Cortez. It can be contacted by phone at 565-0580.
Other plants Loving identified as troublesome this season include:
Black Henbane, introduced from Europe as an ornamental, it blooms June through September. A mature plant reaches 1 to 3 feet with foliage that has a foul odor. Its leaves are shallowly lobed to coarsely toothed sticky hairs. The outer flower is brownish yellow with a purple center and veins. All parts of the plant are poisonous to humans and livestock when ingested.Jointed goatgrass, a mostly erect cool-season grass that closely resembles winter wheat and can be problematic if it infests winter wheat fields because combines can’t separate the grass seeds from wheat seeds.Leafy spurge, a non-native perennial that spreads by seed and creeping roots that can extend 30 feet into soil. The plant can grow from 1 to 3 feet and has stems that are pale green and thickly clustered. Its flowers are small and yellowish-green and enclosed by yellowish-green bracts. The entire plant contains a milky white sap that exudes readily when a stem or leaf is broken and can damage eyes or skin. It is aggressive when established and crowds out other plants.Russian knapweed, a perennial thistle with white hairs on its stems and leaves and purple- to rose-colored flower that is an aggressive invader of pastures and cultivated fields.parmijo@the-journal.com

Bountiful hay harvest begins in Montezuma County

Decker Hay Farm is in the midst of its first of three cuts. Cody Decker said yields are generous this year thanks to spring rains that came at the perfect time.
Cody Decker has been out in the fields for about a week working on the first cut of alfalfa and grass at Decker Hay Farm south of Cortez.
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